Noncomedogenic Products Claim Not To Clog Pores - But Do They Really?

If you keep up with the skincare world and its ever-evolving terminology, you might already be familiar with the word "noncomedogenic." These products are meant to be safe for people with oily and acne-prone skin because they allegedly do not clog pores at all. 


All that truly matters with skincare is keeping your pores clear and happy. But how hard is that? If you're not genetically blessed with good skin, the struggle is real. This is why noncomedogenic products are so popular; this new miraculous solution to acne has entered the sphere, and it promises a lot. 

But that said, you may want to pump the brakes on buying products for a whole new noncomedogenic skincare routine. Yes, noncomedogenic products intend to avoid clogging your pores, but they might not work their well-intentioned wonders on everyone, simply because there aren't a lot of regulations that dictate who can and can't use this terminology on their packaging. 

What makes a product noncomedogenic?

The easiest way to understand what makes a product supposedly noncomedogenic is to first look at the definition of "comedogenic." Skincare products that are comedogenic run the risk of causing clogged pores and consequently the appearance of blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. In other words, they can cause unwanted comedones to surface on the skin. Many ingredients are considered comedogenic, among them certain (not all) oils and skin butters. A few of the main culprits that commonly appear in skincare products include avocado oil, coconut oil, and even beeswax (though this has low levels of comedogenicity), according to Skin Nutritious


Noncomedogenic products, on the other hand, are supposedly free of the ingredients at fault for this reaction and therefore should pose no risk to acne-prone or oily skin. Some of the most popular noncomedogenic ingredients include neem oil, grapeseed oil, salicylic acid, and sulfur (via Healthline).

Do noncomedogenic products really not clog pores?

In theory, noncomedogenic products should not clog pores. But the truth remains unclear because the term is often used without regulation or clear standards (via Healthline). As a result, many believe it to be gimmicky and marketable more than anything.


Don't get us wrong — skincare brands don't typically just slap the noncomedogenic label on a product without some testing. Most brands that use the term evaluate the performance of their product on test subjects throughout the course of one month, counting the comedones that appear in that time (via Evalulab). This is always done under dermatologist supervision, and it gives the brand an idea of whether the product is generally safe to use for acne-prone skin.

The problem here is the lack of official standards, such as FDA regulation, which would evaluate the validity of its use across the board. While the brand-specific test is accurate for their group of test subjects, the effect of the "noncomedogenic" product may still vary from person to person. We all have different skin.


While many products boast this term on their labels, this can be misleading because of the lack of regulations regarding what a noncomedogenic product really is. All in all, always take the term with a grain of salt.

Is it the same as oil-free skincare?

Oil-free and noncomedogenic are different terms that may sometimes overlap but don't always coincide. While some oils definitely fall under the comedogenic category (such as coconut and palm oil), oily-skinned and acne-prone people shouldn't fear all face oils. Some noncomedogenic products are oil-free, and some are not, and this does not change their effectiveness in keeping your pores clean.


When a product is labeled as oil-free, this means only one thing: There is no oil of any kind in the ingredients. This does not always entail the meaning of noncomedogenic, as other ingredients in the product might cause clogging. People with oily skin often prefer to moisturize with oil-free and water-based products for fear of exacerbating their skin's natural oil production, but this comes down to personal preference. If you want that extra layer of moisture without the fear of messing with your skin, your best bet is to look for products made with oils that are considered noncomedogenic.